As anyone who’s adopted a pet knows, way too many photos of animals at shelters give off a sad and depressing vibe. A mix of badly lit and awkwardly posed setups, combined with dogs and cats who are often scared and fearful, rarely makes for a portrait that allows the future pet’s personality to shine through.
Thankfully, people like Arkansas-based photographer Tammy Swarek are stepping up and helping usher through a new approach to rescue dog photography. After volunteering at her local no-kill shelter, the Union County Animal Protection Society, she decided to create striking portraits of the pups in a bid to increase adoption rates.
Let’s take a look at some of Tammy’s most eye-catching adoptable pooches.
Whinnston found his way to the shelter when he was abandoned in El Dorado, Arkansas, along with his siblings. Here, Tammy’s dressed the 10-week-old Australian Shepherd mix in some utilitarian denim overalls. A home with a buzzing interest in DIY would be a smart fit for this canine.
This Labrador mix and his six brothers and sisters were part of an abandoned mother dog’s litter of unwanted pups. Don’t be fooled by the disgruntled ’80s office worker vibe of Paxton’s photo — he’s an optimistic soul at heart.
McKenzie is all dolled up like a fancy pup in pink here, but her story is a heartrending one. After being dumped at a young age with her sister, Radar, the duo were ear-marked to be part of the Paws In Prison program, where dogs spend three months inside being trained by inmates in a mutually beneficial relationship.
Unfortunately, despite her “sweet personality and butterball physique,” McKenzie’s “Pit Bull look was too prominent,” and she’s instead spent the last three years stuck at the shelter. Fancy stepping up and giving this “silly, smart and eager to please” dog a chance?
Big Dave’s story involves being adopted by a family who left an unattended cooked roast out on the countertop one day. Curious at heart, Dave assumed the feast was for him, so he merrily chowed down. Alas, when his family caught him in the act, they severely scolded him. Dave did not appreciate being treated that way and was carted back to the shelter. So, yeah, someone returned a dog because he stole some food…
Tammy describes Casanova as a “hunk of a pup” and a “gentle giant” who’s “all about the ladies.” That’s cool, but I’m really getting more of a Larry David slash Bernie Sanders vibe from his photoshoot. It’s all about the oversized blazer.
Finally, let’s take a look at Penny. During Tammy’s photoshoot with the rest of the shelter dogs, this dinky pooch stepped up and basically took on the role of assistant for the day. “She ran the show like a boss!” recalls Tammy.
Check out more of Tammy Swarek’s shelter dogs project. Contact the Union County Animal Protection Society for information on adoption applications.